List of aircraft assigned to the 445th Bombardment Group (Heavy) between 13 Dec 43 and 25 Apr 45
Thanks to the able assistance of many researchers, we have been able to put together a fairly comprehensive list of B-24 aircraft that was assigned to the 445th Bomb Group (H) during their time over in England serving with the 8th United States Army Air Force. While not 100% complete, this list has been verified from personal records of 445th veterans, photographs of 445th aircraft on the ground and in flight, and from 8th Air Force records used to complete the "Bits and Pieces" project - a detailed record of 8th Air Force aircraft, crews and casualties.
With regards to the personal records from 445th veterans, many of these came from personal remembrances and diaries they kept during the war. Their references to a particular plane as being "their" plane was not always true. Stories like "Memphis Belle" and "Twelve O'Clock High" tend to make people think that a crew flew only their assigned aircraft on missions. While crews did have a 'favorite' plane that they requested to be able to fly, the reality of the situation was that crews had to fly whatever aircraft was available for the day's mission.
Not enough has been said about the ground crews that toiled late at night to prepare the planes for the next day's mission. When the field order came down for the next mission, the Group Operations Officer, along with each of the Squadron Operations Officers, would go over the requirements for the number of planes to be put up. If the call was for a 'maximum effort', each squadron would check the list of assigned aircraft to find how many were available. Some would be down for routine maintenance; others would be undergoing repairs from previous missions. Once the planes have been identified, each squadron would then identify the crews to fly the next day. Meanwhile, calls have gone out to the fuel and bomb dumps for the ordnance personnel to round up the bomb load for each plane and to get the fuel tankers to go around to the various plane and get them fueled up. As the average B-24 would burn between 25 to 90 gallons of fuel per engine per hour depending upon settings, it was vital that the flight engineer kept accurate records of fuel consumption for the plane they were flying.
Once the aircraft and crews were chosen, now it became a race to get the aircraft 'prepped' (bombs loaded, ammunition positioned for the ten .50 caliber machine guns, and fuel pumped into the wing tanks). Key to this operation was the ground crew chief. Usually a senior NCO (Master Sergeant), it was the ground crew chief who orchestrated the activities around the planes he was in charge of. This is the true 'owner' of the aircraft that would be flown in the morning. Woe be it upon the pilot who returned the plane shot all to pieces and the engines burned out without a good explanation.
Around 3 AM, each squadron would have a runner who would go around to the huts and alert the crews that they were flying that day. Some of the air crews who were light sleepers would have heard the engines being run-up and tested by the engine mechanics. Once the run-up was complete, the fuel trucks would make a last-minute stop to top off the fuel tanks. This would be re-checked by the flight engineer of the crew assigned to that particular plane. The gunners would pre-flight their stations, making sure the guns have been installed and loaded. The radio operator would do a check of the radio, making sure that the proper frequencies have been set on the various radios. The navigator would check to see that he has the appropriate aeronautical charts for the day and that his flight instruments (compass and air speed indicator) were working. The bombardier would check the Norden bombsight has been properly connected. The pilot and copilot would do a visual inspection of the aircraft and confer with the ground crew chief to make sure the last mission's write-up's have been fixed. At this point the pilot assumed responsibility for the plane.
The following links will allow you to download Adobe PDF's for the listing of 445th aircraft: Listing of 445th Aircraft